Here’s a unique Sears store from one of my all-time favorite malls, Oakbrook Center, which is located in Chicago’s Western Suburbs. This store, which opened along with the rest of the mall in March 1962, was designed by famed architect Richard Marsh Bennett, who also designed many of the mall’s other structures (including the exterior of the Oakbrook Jewel Food Store, featured in one of this site’s earliest posts). Bennett originally gained fame by designing the very influential Old Orchard Shopping Center, which opened in Skokie, Illinois four years earlier.
Definitely one of the Chicago area’s most successful malls, Oakbrook Center has been expanded many times yet has always managed to maintain the clean, timeless look and feel of the original 1962 concept. I would contrast it with Golf Mill, (another favorite, with a Sears of course) located in near NW suburban Niles, which lost its very charming outdoor concourse (including a wooden miniature “mill”) when it was enclosed in the 1980’s. Oakbrook has remained for the most part an “outdoor” mall, and in a delicious irony seems even more contemporary given the trend of recent years away from enclosed malls.
The Sears store with its distinctive aggregate façade still exists, with some notable changes – the dual script logos were replaced with a single 60’s style serif logo (in the center) many years back. This logo was replaced with the 1990’s block letter logo, which it still currently sports. A central entrance has replaced the dual entrances and many of the windows are now covered. The natural tan color of the aggregate has been painted over (gray) and a blue accent bar has been added across the full width. Sadly, the exquisite metalwork and lighting are gone, replaced with large, round cement columns, which I presume may have been done for structural reasons.